My dad grew up on a farm on the unforgiving west Texas plains outside of Amarillo. In the 1940s and early 50s, dust covered everything in that region of the country, indoors or outdoors, no matter how often things were cleaned. They were poor and they had to work hard to survive. My dad, barely a teenager, spent thousands of hours on a tractor plowing never ending lines into the dusty soil. Sometimes the choking dust storms were unbearable. This was long before the enclosed, air conditioned, modern tractors with CD players. Your face ate it all on a tractor in those days just as it came at you. He used to pull the bandana up around his face, take a deep breath and plow on. They did all that they could do and then they prayed for rain. This was how they survived.
These days we are facing are hard ones too. Good jobs are tough to come by and the American people are struggling. Not all, of course, but so many. Hard work seems to be a declining way of life and those who do work hard seem to find that sweat and blood don’t always get the job done like it once did. I was at my parents farm in rural Tennessee this last week and the neighbor’s mare had just dropped a long-legged black colt with a white star on it’s forehead. This little guy was up in no time and was running with wild abandon all over the paddock; kicking, leaping and joyfully experiencing every sweet breath of life. The colt brought a gust of freedom to my heart. That’s my girl Sonja loving on the little guy’s mama.
The black colt made me think of times in my life when I felt that kind of freedom. In my memory there is a calm, relaxing security in the simplicity of those days. Youth is wonderful. Time goes by so fast. I thought of the day I entered the mission field. Nothing to worry about but opening my mouth and working from daylight until dark, not to earn a living, but to serve my Heavenly Father. Man, were those sweet days. Few worries compared to those experienced later in life. Sweet days indeed.
I thought of our little 1,400 square foot house that Sonja and I lived in for 8 years when we first moved to Nashville. Our first two girls were born while we lived there and their little tan fat summer arms and hands eating popsicles in the yard will forever bring me smiles when I think of them. Those two girls, my babies, are now almost 17 and almost 13. Times flies ever faster. Those were sweet times that seem so long ago, when mortgages were $600 a month and while struggles were still significant, the stakes seemed much simpler.
I will have the privilege next month of standing in the room with an apostle of the Lord as my eldest brother Monte is set apart to serve as the new mission president in Málaga, Spain. He and his wife Bobbi have worked hard and prepared much and they soon will be setting aside the routine difficulties of life in the real world and will be jumping full-on into serving the Lord and 200 young men and women as they all serve together their missions on the Mediterranean coasts of southern Spain. They will sweat their share of blood and tears for the souls they teach, there is no doubt, but they will leave their American home knowing that they have their affairs in order and with a surety that for three years they will need focus on nothing else but the task at hand. I am so proud of them. The are good for it. They will be wonderful in every respect. I am sure they feel a little freedom and excitement as they ready themselves for the journey overseas. They deserve this.
Sometimes our lives can become mundane, boring, tough, not fun and our meters sometimes “peg the red” if you know what I mean, and no vacation time or sweet relief is anywhere in sight. These are the times that cut the men from the boys, the women from the girls. These are the times that cut the masterpieces from the block of rough stone. These are the times we must close our eyes, take a deep breath and plow on. Our pioneer ancestors did through rain, cold and bitter days and nights. Lehi and his large family did it through deserts and across oceans. The Israelites did it following Moses through 40 years of never-ending dusty sand and rock. The sons of Mosiah did it among those who despised them for 14 years. We can find solace in daily scripture study, prayer and meditation. These are the blessings of God for our souls in times of trouble. He has commanded us to do them, but only because He knows the worth of the activities to our parched and wary souls. Let us welcome these gifts.
School is almost out. Summer is upon us. Let us find the heart of a child within us and find a new kick in our step as we PLOW ON. Other will love us for our enthusiasm for life and we will love ourselves more for finding the thrill of victory of yet another day in every breath. God bless every one of us in times of trouble and may we encourage each other to take a deep breath and plow on…enduring to the end.
- Jason Deere